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Introducing UreGrip 3360 DTM

Introducing UreGrip 3360 DTM

UreGrip 3360 is the next generation of direct-to-metal finishes. It offers outstanding durability and weathering characteristics. In addition, it’s formulated to resist mold and mildew. UreGrip 3360 may also be used as a topcoat with an inorganic zinc epoxy primer system for maximum corrosion protection in the most severe industrial environments.

UreGrip 3360 is recommended for applications where high-gloss, low-VOC, increased production and long-term performance are desired.

Where to Use?

UreGrip 3360 DTM should lead the pack when it comes to a one coat solutions for fabricators, OEM’s and even maintenance painters looking for an solution that has a 2 hour pot life and 2-3 hour dry-to-handle times.  

This coating can displace an  epoxy and polyurethane systems in one coat or may appeal to owners who would like to lower their shops VOC emission rates.

Why Use Polyaspartic?

The fast dry, high-gloss, low temp drying capability in one coat along with 2-4 hour dry to handle times.  This technology allows for same day turn-arounds that could have taken 2-3 days with traditional systems.  For cold weather application this coating can dramatically extend the painting season as lab testing has proven curing in sub-freezing conditions. 

Features: 

– This material has a rapid tint capability (RTS) and can be tinted with commonly available 844 tints systems.  

– Excellent color and gloss retention

– High Gloss Finish > 90+ @ 60 Degrees 

– Very good chemical resistance

– VOC Compliant for shop use < 250 g/l 

Pricing: How does UreGrip 3360 DTM Stack Up?  

Product Competitor 

Cost per gallon* 

Solids/gallon 

Cost/sq.ft./mil 

USC UreGrip 3360 DTM

 $xxx.xx

86%

 $0.07

SW Envirolastic 840 DTM

 $xxx.xx

77%

 $0.08

International 4500

 $xxx.xx

56%

 $0.11

Traditional Epoxy/Urethane 

Epoxy  

 $xx.xx

80%

 $0.04

Polyurethane 

 $xx.xx

56%

 $0.08

Contact US Coatings for pricing. 

Click here to view the product release

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Polyaspartic vs. Epoxy and urethane: Choosing coatings wisely

Choosing the right coating for your industrial assets is important. The right choice could mean added useful life and less maintenance for key assets. The wrong one might lay the groundwork for untimely and costly failures.

Foreknowledge of which coatings are better suited for different environments and job specifications is key to an efficient and effective coating job. Let’s compare epoxy and urethane coating systems, a longtime staple of industrial asset protection, to polyaspartic technology, a hybrid coating type increasing in popularity because it can limit lag time and reduce costs.

The case for epoxy and urethane coatings

Epoxy and urethane coating systems offer two layers of protection over a surface. These perform well in heavy industry settings because they’re more tightly cross-linked and less permeable, offering good substrate protection, increased chemical resistance and greater hardness. Due to these qualities, metal and concrete substrates protected by epoxy and urethane combinations stand up well to use and abuse.

Epoxy and urethane coatings also can tolerate exposure to many industrial chemicals. For instance, surfaces protected by epoxy and urethane coatings stand up well against sulfuric acid, which is used in a wide variety of industrial processes. However, certain organic acids present in food production, such as nitric acid, can harm epoxy and urethane coatings.

Epoxy and urethane coatings are well-suited for interior spaces with controlled environments.

Limiting lag time with polyaspartic technology

Relatively new on the industrial coatings scene is polyaspartic technology, a hybrid coating similar to polyurethanes. Innovations in the technology have made these coatings a more versatile option compared to epoxy and urethane coating systems. Applying polyaspartics in a single coat accomplishes what traditional epoxy and urethane systems need two coats to do. The technology has come a long way as early polyaspartic formulations had low adhesion values. Well-known system failures have been blamed on this lack of adhesion promoters in early polyaspartic technology.

Polyurethanes are softer, more flexible and offer better color and gloss retention. They perform well as structural protection, are more versatile in terms of protecting assets in harsh weather conditions and offer better impact resistance than epoxy and urethane coatings. For example, tanks, exterior pipes, barges or exterior concrete are better protected with polyurethane coatings.

Polyaspartic technology breaks from traditional polyurethanes because polyaspartic esters can be manipulated to suit varying applications. Manipulating the esters allows for controlled drying times and extends potlife. Where epoxy and urethane coatings require much longer curing times, polyaspartic coatings cure much more quickly. That limits lag time, allowing assets to be put back to use more quickly. Polyaspartic coatings also can be formulated for application and curing at temperatures well below freezing.

Polyaspartic technology eliminates a step in the coating process compared to epoxy and urethane combinations, saving labor and material costs and shortening project timelines.

Because lower- and zero-VOC coatings can be achieved with polyaspartic technology, it’s safer to apply in confined spaces like storage tanks, railcars or pipes where ventilation is minimal. This also can save on taxes levied against high VOC outputs.

US Coatings introduces UreGrip 3360

US Coatings’ newest polyurethane coating presents a solution in the polyaspartic vs. epoxy and urethane debate. Formulated to protect metal substrates, UreGrip 3360 incorporates polyaspartic technology with advantages that include direct-to-metal application, excellent color and gloss retention and single-coat high build capability. UreGrip 3360 boasts outstanding durability and weathering characteristics and is used to protect a wide range of industrial assets.

UreGrip 3360 offers a two-hour potlife. Faster curing means assets can return to service on the same day as application. Reduced downtime cuts costs; these savings are multiplied when UreGrip 3360 is used in subsequent surface coating programs.

Let us help

As the industrial coating landscape changes, US Coatings is ready to help owners and managers determine the best coating solutions to their specific needs. Contact us for a consultation or view our product portals to learn more about what we offer.

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UreGrip 3900 Release

Overview

UreGrip 3900 is a 2K, thin-film (1-2 mils/25-50µ DFT), fast dry, high solids, low VOC/HAP’s, high gloss polyurethane with mirror-like DOI (depth-of-image). This unique product allows for dry times to be customized by the applicator to meet the expectations of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s). The coating has high early hardness, excellent adhesion and resistance to impact, marring, abrasion, chemicals and staining. 3900 is recommended as a direct to metal (DTM) finish coating or as a finish over universal alkyds, epoxies, epoxy mastics, or properly prepared aged coatings.

What is UreGrip 3900?

US Coatings understands that a fast drying, great looking finish signifies value in the eyes of our customers, and UG 3900 is the perfect solution to communicate product quality to their customers that lasts beyond the time of sale. UreGrip 3900 was designed to meet a variety of customer needs in the OEM and light industrial market. This product offers the aesthetics of an automotive finish combined with the performance of an industrial urethane. The ease of use and the physical performance exceeds any competitive coating in the high-solids, thin-film urethane market space today.

The application qualities are appropriate where high DOI (depth of image) and improved throughput are desired, for example, excavation & agribusiness equipment, top-of-the-line light duty trailers, compressors, metal furniture & fixtures, crane fabricators, and job shops.

Additional markets where clients are searching for a thin film topcoat with superior hiding and UV stable polyurethane finish the for completing of their custom work or large-scale assembly lines. The lower film build capability makes 3900 aggressive against thicker film polyurethanes. 3900 is also perfect for maintenance and touch-up of existing structures in moderately corrosive, high visibility areas.

Features:

  • Infinite color matching capability with revolutionary US Coatings proprietary system
  • Ability to accept standard high-performance coatings tint systems
  • Force-cure capable
  • Exceeds air quality restriction requirements for the entire US
  • May be applied as a DTM (Direct-to-Metal)
  • Application by conventional, airless spray, HVLP, electrostatic or plural component spray
  • Customizable dry times
  • Wet look, high DOI finish offers best-in-class aesthetics

Market Segment Targets:

  • General Metal Finishing, Compressors, Tools, Machine Tools, Packaging Equipment, Dumpsters, Garden Equipment
  • Light and Heavy Duty Equipment, Earth Moving Equipment, Cranes, Machinery, Lift Trucks and Accessories
  • Agriculture Equipment, Wagons, Tillers, Bailers, Spreaders, Harvesting Equipment
  • Light and Heavy Duty Trailer Manufactures
  • Appliances
  • Office Furniture
  • Lawn and Garden Furniture
  • Metal Building Products, Doors, Shelving, Displays, Fencing, Tool Sheds
  • Decorative Steel Products

Competitive Comparisons

Company US Coatings Sherwin-Williams Carboline
Product UreGrip 3900 Polane HS Plus Carbothane 8845
Generic Polyurethane Polyurethane Acrylic, Aliphatic Polyurethane
Gloss 90+ 90+ 75+
SBV 76% 60% 71%
VOC supplied 215 g/l 335 g/l 228 g/l
HAP’s supplied 0.43lbs/solid gallon NA 0.54lbs/solid gallon
DFT/coat 1.5-3 mils/25-50µ 1.5-2 mils/37-50µ 3-5 mils/75-125µ
Dry to Touch @ 75°F/24°C 60-90 minutes/

customizable

60-90 minutes 90-120 minutes
Dry to Handle @ 75°F/24°C 4-8 hours 10-12 hours 7-8 hours
To Recoat 60-90 minutes 60-90 minutes 90-120 minutes
Max Recoat No Maximum NA 200°F/93°C
Airless Spray Tip .013-.017” .009-.013” .013-.017”
Mix Ratio 4:1 3:1 4:1
Surface Prep Primer Finish
SSPC SP3 NA UreGrip 3900
Pretreated Surfaces NA UreGrip 3900
SSPC SP6 MultiGrip 7000 Universal UreGrip 3900
SSPC SP6 MultiGrip 7000 Phenolic Alkyd UreGrip 3900
SSPC SP6 EpoxyGrip 2900 UreGrip 3900
SSPC SP6 EpoxyGrip 2500 UreGrip 3900
Feature Advantage Benefit
High Solids Coating Lower applied cost per square foot applied VOC and HAPs regulations and reduced
VOC and HAPs regulations and reduced Lower operating costs than competitive products Greater plant safety and reduced hazardous waste generation
Unique color delivery system Early hardness and excellent color and gloss retention Coatings looks like new for longer

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

There’s a lot of talk about high solids coatings among industrial coatings professionals these days. But outside of the circle of experts (and sometimes even within it), the concept can be a little fuzzy. Here’s a visual breakdown that hopefully simplifies main principals at work when we refer to high, or even 100%, solids coatings.

High solid coatings, even higher coverage

What are you really buying with your industrial coatings? The truth is, with low solids coatings, much of the liquid that’s contained in the can will evaporate. Low solids coatings are largely made up of solvents, which exist only to make the actual coating (or “binder”) easier to apply. High and 100% solids coatings, on the other hand, have been engineered to be applied without the help of a solvent.

More mils, fewer coats

Paint specifi­cations usually designate a mil thickness that a coating should reach on the surface of the application. Since solvents evaporate once a coating has been applied (usually as a result of exposure to oxygen), more coating must be applied once a solvent has completely evaporated. This is the difference between the wet ­film thickness (WFT) and the dry fi­lm thickness (DFT) of a coating. A specification aiming for a 20-mil DFT out of a 50% solid coating, for instance, would require two coats at 20 mils, whereas a 100% solid would require only one coat.

Why limit volatile organic compounds?

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates the emission of VOCs through what is known as the Architectural Rule for Volatile Organic Compounds. This rule limits the amount of VOCs manufacturers are able to emit during operation and can result in fees for exceeding the limits.

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Paint cure times and OEM Coatings

Production time is a pain point we encounter with manufacturers and product finishers as diverse as the OEM market itself. How can we produce equipment quicker, so we can pack it, ship it and sell it more quickly?

Well, industrial paint cure times play a big part in manufacturing speeds. So whether you’re using a water- or solvent-based OEM coating, it’s important for manufacturers to choose one with cure times designed to meet their needs.

Paint cure times and cost savings for alkyds, urethanes and epoxies

Alkyds

Alkyd coatings are veteran materials in the industrial coatings industry. Though they’ve been around for some time, in some situations, Alkyds may still be the best product for the job. Advancements and hybridizations in alkyd formulas have resurrected these products that were once considered old-fashioned. Alkyd formulations have been modified to be more environmentally friendly, for instance.

The three main draws of Alkyd paints have traditionally been their single-component packaging, relatively low cost and the familiarity with these products among manufacturers who have been using them since they had newly come to market.

Perhaps more importantly though, newer formulations of water-based alkyds show real promise as quick drying, low-VOC products. Certain resins have been proven to speed up the drying process for example, allowing refurbished shipping containers to be stacked only a few hours after they had been coated. This represents a real advancement in the usefulness of an ultra-low VOC alternative to other solvent-based products.

Urethanes and Epoxies

Production is at the mercy of the rate at which the solvent evaporates. This can be a problem when it affects the output of a manufacturing facility. Manufacturers may want to make the switch to a urethane, where paint cure times are drastically reduced, since drying with these products is dependent on a chemical reaction that can be catalyzed from the outside. As productions speeds increase, the increased expenditure on a higher cost-per-gallon product is eventually narrowed until the lower throughput time actually leads to cost savings.

Newer formulations of urethane coatings and epoxy coatings are helping to address inefficiencies. Specific formulations— those that cut the amount of harmful byproducts released into the atmosphere, and reduce the amount of product that’s needed by going farther with less—represent great opportunities for original equipment manufacturers and product finishers to increase production while cutting coatings costs.

These are just a few examples of how the right coating can help manufacturers achieve the results that are important to them. For more on choosing the right OEM coatings, download our guide through the link below.

USC-OEM-blog-CTA desktop

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Corrosion Resistant Coatings

A number of factors go into designing a successful corrosion prevention program. Choosing the right corrosion resistant coating is only one of them. Another, which will determine the longevity of a corrosion prevention system, is maintenance. When the right industrial coating is chosen, and maintained, corrosion can successfully be stopped from damaging your asset. Corrosion services should be catered to your specific needs.

Selecting a Corrosion Resistant Coating

Sacrificial and barrier coatings have been engineered to excel in specialized circumstances and to respond to a number of very specific environmental pressures. A project’s specification sheet should address any special circumstances surrounding an asset, including any extreme pressures it should expect to encounter and whether or not a corrosion resistant coating will need to account for.

Here’s where it may not be a bad idea to enlist the services of a NACE-certified coatings inspector to view an asset before it’s coated. This will help to determine what properties will be required from a coating, such as whether a highly corrosive environment will necessitate a urethane topcoat rather than an alkyd, for instance. The number of possible environmental stresses, and the coatings that could stand up to them, are numerous. That’s why it’s often a good idea to have a professional inspection before selecting a coating.

Once a generic coating type has been selected, it’s important to consider where the product comes from. Many manufacturers will cut corners on the way to producing what many qualify as an “epoxy primer” or a “polyurethane finish”. Inferior resins and cheap fillers and extenders are shortcuts that can yield a less expensive product at the expense of performance.

Having your asset examined by a coatings specialist beforehand will also help with that all-important second step in keeping corrosion at bay: a well thought out maintenance plan.

Coatings maintenance

The worst possible time to discover your corrosion prevention system has let you down is when an asset fails. And protection from corrosion is, unfortunately, not a one-and-done process. The elements degrade. Chemicals erode. Moisture seeps in. These are realities as certain as death and taxes. But, with a coatings maintenance plan in place, regular wear over time needn’t be a significant setback.

A little spot coating as a part of a regular coatings maintenance plan can prevent the spread of localized corrosion and keep the need for a full-blown recoat years in the future.

And that’s not the most significant reason for having a maintenance plan in place. A full-scale failure as a result of damage caused by corrosion could be catastrophic. Leaking chemical pipelines and unsound structural steel threaten lives as well as financial stability. We’ve seen already how much corrosion costs the economy, and regular coating’s maintenance is a one of the best fundamental strategies we have for bringing those expenditures down. When corrosion is allowed to proceed to the point of taking an asset out of commission, that’s corrosion at its most expensive, not to mention its most dangerous.

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Corrosion Services: Preventing Corrosion

We’ve discovered more than a few effective methods for protecting steel from corrosion. Some methods have been in use for longer than others, some are better for the environment than others, and all of them entail certain tradeoffs as far as performance, price and material properties are concerned.

The corrosion services you receive need to reflect the conditions your assets endure. Environmental factors such as acid rain, humidity, chemical salts, oxygen and high temperatures are all factors that can affect the pace of corrosion. It’s best to control for these factors where possible, but this is often impractical or downright impossible. For more reliable methods of corrosion prevention, more active solutions are called for.

While many methods of corrosion prevention have been tested out over the years, a couple of them have emerged as among the most effective. Corrosion resistant coatings are among the most reliable and cost-effective methods for fighting corrosion. For reasons of chemistry, coating structural steel in gold would probably be fairly effective in protecting it from corrosion. But for more obvious reasons, this is not a widely used method of corrosion control.

Within the realm of protective coatings, a few strategies have emerged as particularly effective corrosion services. It’s no coincidence that two of them, barrier and sacrificial coatings, are among the coating services that we specialize in.

Here’s a top-level breakdown of the strategies most of our products use to battle corrosion:

Sacrificial coatings

Sacrificial coatings tend to make excellent primers. These unselfish coatings usually take the form of an extremely thin layer of metal, such as zinc or nickel, which is known to corrode preferentially to steel. These coatings are applied directly to a ferrous metal, usually steel, in order to steer the corrosion process in a direction that is ultimately not harmful to the asset by “donating” an electron to the substrate to make its charge unfriendly to the corrosion process.

Zinc primers are excellent examples of sacrificial coatings. Though they’re meant to corrode preferentially to the asset, the rate at which they succumb to corrosion is slower than many other sacrificial coatings, leading to longer intervals before a recoat is necessary.

When combined with a topcoat system that offers excellent barrier properties, sacrificial primers form part of a system with proven success in fighting corrosion.

Barrier coatings

Barrier coatings are probably the products that come to mind when most people think of industrial coatings. These are the products in charge of keeping oxygen and moisture from a substrate and protecting it from harmful chemicals, including soluble salts.

According to NACE, the following are the most important properties for a barrier coating. A coating should:

  • Be able to protect from the surrounding chemical environment
  • Be able to resist moisture
  • Be able to resist vibration and minor impacts
  • Exhibit strong adhesion properties even in moist conditions
  • Exhibit strong wetting properties for a smooth, even film build

Different environments stress barrier coatings in different ways. In areas experiencing prolonged exposure to sunlight, a high UV-resistant coating will be a priority. In marine environments, a coating’s ability to protect against soluble salts and their corrosive effects will be especially important. In chemical factories and other processing facilities, where harsh and reactive materials are an everyday reality, good chemical resistance will be a necessary property.

Given the wide array of elements barrier coatings must protect against, it’s a good thing they’re not working alone. When combined with a sacrificial primer, and sometimes an intermediate barrier coating, a good barrier coating is part of a system that effectively fights corrosion.

But it’s important to know exactly which system is called for given an asset’s environmental circumstances. That’s why we offer on-site surveys as part of our corrosion services.

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Common Types of Corrosion

The nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, and the lack of funding it receives, is making headlines on a daily basis these days. While there are many causes for collapsed bridges, potholed highways and inefficient railway networks, one natural phenomenon stands out as a threat to nearly every sector that falls under the umbrella of “America’s transportation infrastructure problem.” The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) estimates that corrosion costs the U.S. economy $276 billion annually.

More than just something unpleasant to look at, corrosion represents a serious drag on the economy and a danger to human health and safety. It is a natural, albeit preventable, process that’s spawned an entire industry dedicated to battling it. Corrosion services have become an important part of maintaining steel and iron assets.

Broadly, corrosion is defined as the naturally occurring degradation of a surface (usually a metal), when exposed to the atmosphere. A more relevant definition for our purposes concerns what happens to iron, a major component of steel and the most commonly used alloy in infrastructure, when it is exposed to the elements.

When iron is exposed to oxygen and moisture, an electrochemical process known as oxidation occurs. Oxidation results in iron oxide, or rust, forming on the metal’s surface and corrosion begins to set in. As long as steel remains an integral component in the makeup of the country’s transportation infrastructure, corrosion is not a problem that will disappear anytime soon. 

Generalized Corrosion and Localized Corrosion

The many types of corrosion that can affect an asset add to the difficulty of protecting against it. Generally speaking, there are two, broad categories of corrosion: generalized and localized. As their names suggest, generalized corrosion attacks the entire surface area of an asset, while localized corrosion is limited to certain, often irregularly shaped, areas of a particular asset.

Because generalized corrosion is predictable, treatable and fairly easy to detect, it’s often seen as the less dangerous of the two types, assuming prevention methods are in place initially. Localized corrosion, on the other hand, can be more difficult to detect and is more likely to occur even after an asset has apparently been protected. Here are the most common localized corrosion types, according to NACE:

  • Pitting corrosion– Pitting corrosion is the result of localized failures in a coating system. At these points of failure, small holes begin to form and increase in size if the problem is not addressed. Because pitting corrosion is more difficult to spot, and often occurs on assets that owners consider adequately protected, pitting corrosion is much more likely to progress to the point of seriously degrading the integrity of an asset, making it a far more dangerous type of corrosion.
  • Crevice corrosion– Also sometimes called “contact” corrosion, crevice corrosion occurs in those micro-spaces where two different materials overlap or otherwise touch one another. This could be a metal-on-metal or metal on a non-metal point of contact, but it usually occurs around bolts, gaskets, washers, clamps or other fastening devices that form small spaces where corrosion process can begin.
  • Filiform corrosion– Filiform corrosion occurs when moisture is allowed to penetrate the small gap between a coating and the substrate, usually at a natural edge on the substrate or at a defect in the coating system. This type of localized corrosion is often distinguishable by bubbles forming beneath the coating.

The most successful method for controlling these types of corrosion involves the one-two-punch of an effective prevention strategy and diligent upkeep of that means of prevention.

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VOC regulations and what they mean for manufacturers

VOC limits and manufacturers

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are emitted by everything from aerosol deodorants to household cleaning supplies. But some industries may create them in large enough quantities to constitute a substantial health risk and contribute to ground-level ozone buildup.

According to the EPA, ground-level ozone results from a reaction between oxides of nitrogen and sunlight. It is associated with a host of respiratory issues.

Residents of some large cities, such as Los Angeles or Beijing, are familiar with the buildup of smog over the city skyline. VOCs are a major component of smog. But whereas Los Angeles began to regulate emissions in the 1970s and resulting in a reduction of ground-level ozone levels, Beijing did not enact major air pollution control measures until 2013 and still experiences exceptionally smoggy days.

Inventions like the catalytic converter have been instrumental in cutting pollution, but so too have regulations on the output of VOCs in industrial settings. While VOC regulations may sometimes be a thorn in the side of high-output facilities, they’re nothing compared to the health effects that can result from heavy exposure to ground-level ozone from VOCs.

VOC regulations by state

Coatings manufacturers are limited in the number of VOCs they can include in coatings by the EPA’s Architectural Coating Rule for Volatile Organic Compounds. Enacted in 1998, this subset of the earlier Clean Air Act sets nationwide rules for the manufacture, labeling and packaging of coatings to be used on any stationary structure.

In 2020, the EPA enacted the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, which establishes emission limits and work practice requirements for new and existing miscellaneous coating manufacturing operations like process vessels, storage tanks, wastewater, transfer operations, equipment leaks, and heat exchange systems. It also implemented the Clean Air Act to require new emission-control techniques under Maximum Achievable Control Technology standards.

Nearly every industry also has its own regulations controlling for VOC emissions. State regulations must meet what the EPA calls Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT), or the lowest VOC emission levels that can be achieved given technological and economic considerations. Some states and counties go even further. States like Pennsylvania and California have enacted VOC regulations that are far tougher than the EPA’s.

How low-VOC products can help business

VOC regulations don’t have to be the limiting factor in production for manufacturers. OEM and other operations using large amounts of industrial coatings have low-VOC options. These can help keep manufacturers running at full bore.

We’ve written on this blog before about 100% solids coatings. These are coatings that contain no solvents, and hence no VOCs. While these coatings tend to come with a higher sticker price than a similar coating containing VOCs, they also cover a much greater surface area. In many cases, this can make the price difference a relative wash.

Water-based coatings are another option for manufacturing operations to reduce VOC output. While these coatings may have had longer curing times in the past, newer hybrid formulations and other methods of forced curing have largely solved this issue. These products can also help to remove the need to artificially slow production in order to stay beneath VOC emission limits.

If you’re interested in discussing low or zero VOC coatings further, we’d love to talk. You can get in touch with us here.

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Water-based coatings vs. solvent-based coatings

Coatings frequently take their name from the binder, or resin, from which they’re made. Epoxies, alkyds and urethanes are all examples of resins that give a coating their name. But these aren’t the only parts that make up a coating. In addition to additives, which can lend a coating certain performance properties, and the pigments that lend color, coatings also contain an element that dissolves it all into a liquid for easy application.

This liquefying agent typically takes the form of water or some other chemical solvent. Hence the terms “water-based” and “solvent-based”. Which type of product is right for the job will depend on the circumstances. Generally speaking, one is not better than the other, but they do perform differently in different situations. Ideally, both options will exist side-by-side in a coating professional’s arsenal.

Water-based coatings

Water-based paints make up about 80 percent of household paints sold today according to the Paint Quality Institute, a paint advising and testing organization. There’s no doubt this is in large part due to one of the main attractions of water-based products, whether it’s an interior house paint or heavy-duty protective coating: fewer odors.

When working in confined or poorly ventilated spaces, the evaporation of solvents can be uncomfortable for workers or even flat out hazardous to their health. For this reason, many projects like those involving fuel storage tanks and railroad tank cars make use of water-based coatings. These also reduce the concentration of flammable materials that build up in a confined space. That does not mean, however, that the use of water-based coatings negates the need for OSHA approved confined space safety measures.

Environmental compliance is another common reason for choosing to use a water-based coating. Many solvents evaporate into what are known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. National, state and local governments often regulate VOCs by limiting how much businesses are allowed to emit in a given timespan. The EPA sets national rules for VOCs, but some states have tightened restrictions even further, necessitating concerted efforts to limit their emission.

Water-based coatings don’t necessarily contain zero solvents, though. Many contain what are called co-solvents, solvents present in lower concentrations and meant to help push the rest of the water out of the coating as it dries. But since water-based coatings have either no, or considerably less solvents, they are a great way to lower a business’s VOC output. For some companies, this can mean spending less on environmental compliance advising. Or keep them from paying significant fines for exceeding VOC quotas.

Solvent-based coatings

Solvent-based paints are made up of liquefying agents that are meant to evaporate via a chemical reaction with oxygen. Typically, moving air surrounding a solvent-based coating will help to speed up the reaction, reducing drying times.

These coatings have one major advantage over water-based coatings. They are less susceptible to environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity during the curing phase. Humidity can actually prevent the water in a water-based coating from evaporating, making them impractical in some climates.

Water-based coatings also present a challenge to the surface prep stage of a coating project. Water, while a promising substitute for solvents in some situations, is also a key component of the corrosion process, the entire reason for the industrial coatings industry in the first place. If water makes contact with the substrate before the coating is applied, spot rusting may begin to occur. In order to ensure that this is not the case, water-based coatings must be formulated so that all the water is drawn out through the surface film before corrosion can occur. This is not a consideration with solvent-based coatings.

So, in summary, though water-based coatings may be a good option for jobs involving confined spaces and continuous coatings use, they’re not without their weak spots. Jobs in open, humid conditions, such as those often found in infrastructure recoating projects, can still benefit from the right coating. If you would like to discuss which type of product might be best for your project, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with US Coatings today. Or, if you want to take a look at our full product line first, download our product catalog below.

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